Thanks for your response. Bostrom considers the idea you mention
in section 4.6 called "Class Action." He uses the term "YOU" to
represent all your qualitatively identical duplicates throughout the
(Level 1) multiverse. According to the class action selection rule,
"Even though your actions may have only finite consequences, YOUR
actions will be infinite. If the various constituent person-parts of
YOU are distributed roughly evenly throughout spacetime, then it is
possible for you to affect the world's value-density. For example, if
each person-part of YOU acts kindly, YOU may increase the well-being
of an infinite number of persons such that the density of well-being
in the world increases by some finite amount." (p. 39)
However, this class action argument assumes that the value-density
approach is an acceptable way to measure the value in a world. There
are a few problems with the value-density approach. First of all, it
seems to give up aggregationism (total consequentialism) in favor of
average consequentialism. Average consequentialism has the
counterintuitive implication that we should kill people who have
average utility and few friends or loved ones, such as some hermits
and homeless people. Secondly, the value-density approach "places
ethical significance on the spatiotemporal distribution of value." (p.
This is at odds with consequentialism's commitment to impartiality
(the idea that equal amounts of value are equally good to promote, no
matter who or where the beneficiaries are). Third, "the value-density
approach fails to apply to inhomogeneous infinite worlds . . . because
value-density is undefined for such worlds." (p. 16)
Hopefully some other combination of approaches will be more
On Oct 20, 3:04 pm, Jesse Mazer <laserma...@gmail.com> wrote:
> What about the idea that the choices you make are likely to reflect those of
> an infinite number of "similar" individuals? It's sort of like the issue of
> voting or trying to minimize your energy usage to help the environment, even
> if your individual choice makes very little difference, if everyone decides
> their choices don't matter and choose the less beneficial option, then this
> does significantly change the outcome for the worse. It makes me think of
> Douglas Hofstadter's notion of "superrationality" which he discusses in an
> essay in "Metamagical Themas":
> Hofstadter's idea here seems like a variation on Kant's idea that the moral
> choice is the one that it would make sense for *everyone* to adopt
> (seehttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/#ForUniLawNat)--I just
> Bostrom's paper but I didn't see any detailed discussion of this sort of
> ethical theory, which is odd since Bostrom is a philosopher and this has
> been a pretty influential idea in ethics.
> Physicist (and many-worlds advocate) David Deutsch also makes a somewhat
> similar point about morality in a quantum multiverse in this
> “By making good choices, doing the right thing, we thicken the stack of
> universes in which versions of us live reasonable lives,” he says. “When you
> succeed, all the copies of you who made the same decision succeed too. What
> you do for the better increases the portion of the multiverse where good
> things happen.”
> On Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 2:23 PM, nihil0 <jonathan.wol...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi,
> > Here is the abstract of Bostrom's "Infinitarian Challenge to
> > Aggregative Ethics"
> > Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories
> > are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible
> > assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically
> > indifferent what you do. Modern cosmology teaches that the world might
> > well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other
> > candidate value‐bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that
> > such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an
> > infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount
> > of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity
> > is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So
> > it appears you cannot change the value of the world. Modifications of
> > aggregationism aimed at resolving the paralysis are only partially
> > effective and cause severe side effects, including problems of
> > “fanaticism”, “distortion”, and erosion of the intuitions that
> > originally motivated the theory. Is the infinitarian challenge fatal?
> > Bostrom's argument seems pretty solid to me. But I am not a
> > mathematician. What do you guys think?
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